After careful consideration and deliberation, the Chazanoff School of Business recently announced the winners of the 2022 Blackstone LaunchPad Ideas Competition. From every corner of the College, students submitted thought-provoking ideas, with applications spread across several different categories. The panel of judges had a very difficult task in their decision-making process, but after careful consideration, the results are in and the victors include the following participants: in the Social and Climate Impact category, Michael Cascio; in the Health and Life Sciences category, Aliah Salem; in the General category, Yekaterina Zelikova; in the Consumer category, Tal Ohana and Jose Oropeza; in the Veteran category, Holly Ardern; in the First Generation category, Dominick Francois, Salvatore Nicolosi, and Latesha Negron; and in the Historically Underrepresented category, Adrian Rosales.
Social and Climate Impact
In the Social and Climate Impact category of the competition, Michael Cascio is the first-place winner with his proposal “Moon Shot,” an app that delivers advanced baseball metrics on the spot. Cascio’s app would capture bat speed along with ball exit velocity and launch angle, just from setting up behind the batter as they swing. “Moon Shot” would also give insights into hit probability, after briefly scanning the field on which the batter is hitting. Cascio hopes to make baseball more exciting and relevant for the younger generation using this app.
Health and Life Sciences
Aliah Salem’s proposal for a “Modified Seatbelt” stems from an issue that hits close to home. One of Salem’s relatives suffers from a health-related condition that makes the positioning of a typical seatbelt problematic. This has motivated Salem to help both her family member and others with similar conditions.
Yekaterina Zelikova pitched her idea of a “Personalized Cybersecurity Software Development Firm.” As the rate of major cybersecurity attacks continues to rise, Zelikova looks to protect CEOs, wealthy business owners, and their consumers from having their information stolen on the Web. The “personalized” element of her firm would keep corporations’ and consumers’ sensitive information safer than software ever could. Zelikova came up with this idea after one of her family members had their identity stolen due to substandard security software.
Tal Ohana is striving to keep sneakers looking fresh with his idea, “Klean Kicks.” Ohana offers a sneaker cleaning and refurbishing service, in which his expertise and care set him apart from the rest. He hopes to relate to and do business with “sneakerheads” everywhere who deal with the struggle of keeping their tennis shoes looking like they are straight out of the box. Ohana gained inspiration for “Klean Kicks” by maintaining his own sneaker collection.
Jose Oropeza is also offering his services to “sneakerheads” with his business, “Lifeandsoles.” He is focused on inspiring those who are invested in sneaker culture and streetwear, by allowing them to express themselves in their clothing. “Lifeandsoles” provides high-end shoe laces, the latest sneaker releases, and its own apparel. Oropeza hopes to someday set up shop in the heart of Manhattan as his business continues to grow.
Holly Ardern’s idea, “Toilet Access NYC,” is designed to assist New Yorkers with disabilities with their bathroom needs. Arden is striving to build an app that gives users directions to the closest accessible bathroom. These bathrooms will be rated on the app and evaluated with guidelines that go beyond that of the ADA. The app will also allow users to tailor their bathroom needs based on their specific abilities to ensure that they will find the bathroom that is right for them. Arden became impassioned after hearing stories of the difficulties of utilizing public restrooms by those with disabilities, and decided that she could try and help to keep everyone comfortable, safe, and healthy when nature calls.
Dominick Francois impressed the judges with his idea for “Island Hopper,” a “hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Staten Island.” The inspiration for his idea came from a project he completed earlier in his Marketing 600 class. In speaking with Francois, he raved about the tourist potential of Staten Island, saying “Staten Island is still an untapped market for the New York City tourist. “Island Hopper” is a great way to tap into the tourist market in a way that can also tremendously benefit Staten Island businesses too.” He also gave credit to CSI for “teaching students who have ideas,” explaining how the “ideas [students] have come to fruition as they continue to learn.” Francois believes that through “combining the knowledge students have, and aspirations to better themselves and others, [we] can create societies of people who can find ways to contribute to the environments they’re in.”
Salvatore Nicolosi has plans to assist Staten Island drivers in personalizing their vehicles with his business, “Aesthetic Motorsports.” Nicolosi wants to allow vehicle owners to express their creativity through their cars. Through customizable color wraps, seat belts, and other aftermarket cosmetic installs, Nicolosi will have his customers feeling unique while cruising down the street. Nicolosi came up with his idea through finding joy in working on and customizing his own car.
Latesha Negron’s proposal, “Digital Price Change,” is designed to give consumers accurate prices on retail items. Negron wants to add digital, easily updated price tags to shelves in order to end the confusion of expired price markings for both buyers and sellers. Negron, a former retail worker, used to spend hours finding and replacing expired price-markings, and realized her company was losing revenue through out-of-date price tags. With “Digital Price Change,” just the click of a button will allow retail stores to display their current prices.
Through his proposal “FashionGo,” Adrian Rosales is looking to give people stylish advice. Rosales’ app would keep a photo-inventory of a person’s clothing and tell them where, when, and why to wear a certain outfit. This app will also match clothes to create the perfect outfit for any occasion, giving everybody an easy way to upgrade their appearance. Ropsales takes pride in being well-dressed and hopes to help others do the same.
Second- and Third-Place Winners
With more than 150 submissions received, Blackstone LaunchPad at CSI can confidently say that this Ideas Competition was a resounding success. The Blackstone LaunchPad team and all those involved send their congratulations to the winners and express their gratitude to all those who applied.
The Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship network at CSI makes entrepreneurship accessible by connecting a diverse group of students to resources both on and off campus. Hosted by the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business, LaunchPad is open to students from all areas across the College. Chazanoff School Founding Dean Susan Holak would like to acknowledge the efforts of the LaunchPad team, led by faculty Co-Directors Professor Heidi Bertels and Professor Mark Stroud, along with LaunchPad Coordinator Natalia Sandor. For its part, the LaunchPad team wishes to take this opportunity to express their heartfelt appreciation to all of the judges for volunteering their time and expertise to help advance this worthwhile endeavor. Please register for StartupTree to learn more about upcoming events and programming at https://csi.startuptree.co.
By: John Paul Hoey